Voices from Russia

Saturday, 9 April 2016

9 April 2016. A Tale of Two Venues… Bernie’s Coming to Albany and Chilly Hilly Only Went to Cohoes

00 lee judge. minimum wage put bernie in the white house 051015


In another sign that the Clinton campaign is flailing in the political La Brea Tar Pits, Bernie’s coming to Albany Monday and he’s coming to a venue far larger than the one Chilly Hilly appeared at last week. Hilly’s crowd only issued 1,500 tickets… an insider told me that Hilly’s people had left-over tickets. Besides, she appeared at an out-of-the-way high school auditorium in Cohoes… a two-bit Rust Belt ex-mill town with no real influence, cred, or class. Bernie’s appearing at the Washington Avenue Armory, a venue that seats 4,300 for events… he’s appearing during the state workers’ lunch hour. In short, he’s gonna draw more people than Chilly Hilly did and do so right in the heart of Albany three loud farts away from the State Capital building and the Empire State Plaza. Trust me, Handy Andy Cuomo’s gonna have his assets out there scoping the situation out. This is seriously bad ju-ju for the HillyBillys. Just you watch… all the Glib Libs will moan n’ groan… they’re gonna say that it means nothing. “It’s a fake… it’s nothing but kids living in their parents’ basements”. I’ll say to these creepo supremos… “I’m for Bernie and I’m no kid and I don’t live in anybody’s basement for free. Me n’ Nicky pay our own bills, thank you very much, bills that are too high due to the maleficent influence of evil pols like Bill and Hilly. I’m 62, so I’m no kid”.

Eat shit and die, HillyBillys… Bernie’s in the house and to hell with your louse…



Saturday, 11 January 2014

11 January 2014. A Note From Your Indefatigable Editor… Niagara Falls DOESN’T Freeze Solid, Even in Cold Snaps

00 Frozen Niagara Falls. Canada. 11.01.14


As I live in upstate New York, I might know a thing or two about local winters. Yes, it does get plenty cold. It always does. There’s always freezing on the rivers, and the spring thaw is always dicey as a result. The farther you go from the sea, the colder it gets. That’s why Albany’s winters are relatively mild for the region, and why the St Lawrence Valley is better off than some areas farther from the ocean winds. Of course, winters in the Upper Midwest and on the Canadian Prairies are the most brutal, leading to bumper stickers in Fargo and Edmonton reading, “40 Below Keeps the Riff-Raff Out”.

I know people in the Buffalo area… they all tell me that Niagara Falls NEVER freezes completely, even though winters are always Siberian-grade. A state trooper told me that they’re always on the lookout for nutters who try to walk across the ice… it never freezes “solid” (there’s always water underneath), so, this makes winter “interesting” for them. He said, “I don’t mind summer, it’s just crowds, drunks, and a few scuffles. Winter… you’ve got to keep an eye out at all times for idiots trying to walk on the ice. It’s dangerous, we fish out a body every winter, it seems”. Niagara Falls freezing solid is an urban legend, along with cats in the microwave and alligators in the sewers.

Oh, yes… Niagara Falls did “stop” once, in the 1840s. However, that was due to ice floes on the Niagara River, NOT the Falls freezing solid. That’s the only time that happened in historical memory. Sorry, kids…


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Thursday, 5 September 2013

A Distant War Echoes in Local Church: Worries Arise Over Possible Consequences of American Attack on Syria


St George Antiochian Orthodox Church, founded by Syrian immigrants on South Dove Street in 1933, is a microcosm encompassing the nation’s debate over a possible American military strike against the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in retaliation for an alleged chemical attack that killed hundreds of civilians outside Damascus last month. Wahid Albert, 52, of Schenectady NY, said, “It’s not our war, and I don’t think we should be in it at all”. He left Syria in 1980, earned a civil engineering degree at the University of Buffalo, and joined St George parish when he settled here in 1984.

The fighting puts Syria’s Christian minority in a vulnerable position, stoking fears among family members who belong to St George. Albert said, “I worry that there’ll be a slaughter of Christians in Damascus by al-Qaeda-led rebels if the USA sends a strike”. His mother and sister live together in a Christian neighbourhood in the Syrian capital, where he said they’re afraid to go outside because of the fighting. Two weeks ago, a rebel-fired mortar round struck 100 yards from their house, killing four people and injuring more than 30. Members of his wife’s family also live in that area, and mortar attacks are common. Albert urged them to flee to the safety of a second home in the mountains.

Since a popular uprising began in March 2011 that was part of the so-called Arab Spring, the conflict between Syrian rebels and the Assad government has been deadlocked. US President Barack Obama is trying to marshal support in Congress and internationally for a strike against the Assad régime for its alleged use of chemical weapons. Fr Gregory DesMarais, the pastor of St George, which has about 140 members, said, “We’re deeply worried about the situation in Syria and the ripple effect an American strike would have throughout the region. Americans are largely ignorant of what’s going on there”. A parishioner who’s on vacation on the border of Syria and Lebanon wrote on the church’s Facebook page recently, “I can hear the bombs at night”. Christians are about 10 percent… compared with about 90 percent Muslims… of Syria’s population of 25 million. However, historically, the Assad régime was tolerant and protective of the Christian minority. In turn, Christians supported the government even in the face of evidence that the régime fired rockets loaded with the nerve agent Sarin/GB to kill his own citizens {here, the reporter repeats stale American black propaganda lies… caveat lector: editor}.

Albert and his family members in Damascus don’t find the chemical weapons evidence credible. He said, “We believe the attack was staged. Assad could’ve lobbed a Scud missile and killed a lot more people than with a chemical weapon. It doesn’t pass the stink test”. Parishioner Fayez Abed of Troy NY has been distraught since he learned that family members witnessed a gruesome killing by rebels at a recent Christian wedding. He says that eyewitnesses told him that rebels raided the ceremony and that they slit the throats of the bride and groom inside the church. Fr Gregory said, “Fayez is outraged and very emotional about it”. On Friday, Fr Gregory will open the church for a daylong programme of prayer and reflection on the crisis in Syria. There will be morning matins, afternoon hours of prayer, and vespers in the evening. The parish will offer a day of prayer and fasting on 14 September for the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross.

Sectarian violence isn’t new in Syria. The St George parish founders fled oppression in the waning years of the Ottoman Empire. In Albany, they worked as labourers and settled in the ethnic melting pot of the South End. A dozen or so families first met for worship in each other’s homes just off Second Avenue starting in the 1920s. The men pooled money won at weekly card games and built a little red brick church in 1956 near Bishop Maginn High School. The women got together on Friday nights to prepare communal feasts of baba ghanouj, hummus, tabbouleh, kibbe, lamb kebabs, and other Middle Eastern dishes. For most of its 80-year history, the clergy served liturgy in Arabic, and golden icons of saints decorated the church’s interior.

In recent decades, the congregation diversified to include Lebanese, Ethiopians, Egyptians, and Palestinians. The tangle of regional conflicts in their homelands and the strong pull of nationalism threatened to tear apart the congregation, but the centre held. National flags that once flew in the parish hall during coffee hour after the Sunday liturgy are gone, along with the rancour and clannish hostility the displays fuelled. Fr Gregory said, “It took a long time for this parish to get past that nationalistic behaviour, but we’re a good example of dealing with our differences and coming together as one to worship”. Sunday services are now conducted in English, although parishioners are invited to repeat the Our Father in Arabic or Amharic, a language of Ethiopia. Fr Gregory observed, “It’s a tip of the hat to our ethnic makeup”.

As Albert expressed fear for his family’s safety in Damascus, he recalled a happy childhood spent in the cradle of Christianity where his late father, who lived in the USA and served as an Army Reservist in World War II, had returned because his wife was homesick, saying, “I went to a high school on the road to Damascus where St Paul was converted to Christianity”. Albert’s daughter, one of his three children, all in their 20s, called off plans to live in Syria. He said, “They can’t understand what happened to the beautiful country where we used to spend summers when they were young. They want to know where that Syria went”.

4 September 2013

Paul Grondahl

Albany Times Union


Editor’s Note:

Where did that Syria go? You can find the answer “inside the Beltway”, on Capitol Hill, in Langley’s marbled halls, and in the boardrooms of rapacious American corporations. The evil in America has to cease… we’ve been a rogue nation long enough.


Saturday, 5 January 2013

It’s Christmas for Russian Orthodox Church



Editor’s Note:

This “interview” is softball and a fluff piece (it has First Family fingerprints all over it). I’ll have more to say after you read this treacly missive. After all, I live in Albany NY, and Colonie NY is one of its nearest suburbs (the parish is a 15 minute drive from downtown Albany near Broadway hill on a Sunday, a bit longer on weekdays). Take some of this jabronie’s comments with a heavy dose of scepticism and a BIG block of salt…



The Rev Alexis Duncan, priest at Church of Nativity of the Most Holy Mother of God Russian Orthodox Church in Colonie NY., was born and raised in Virginia in a Russian Orthodox family. Graduated from Holy Trinity Orthodox Seminary in Jordanville NY, in Herkimer County, where he met Anna, his wife of 23 years. They live in Voorheesville NY.

Jennifer Patterson

You recently moved back to the Northeast. What brought you here?

Alexis Duncan

There was a need here at the church. I came from Atlanta in September after serving there as priest for 16 years. I’ve known a lot of the parishioners in Albany for many years since my time at seminary. Fr Wsevolod Drobot at the church on Sand Creek Road was getting older and recently retired as parish priest after 50 years. Of course, it’s been a bit of an adjustment… especially the weather. This is the first snow I’ve seen in some time. My wife and I had to go out and buy snow tires and boots.

Jennifer Patterson

Your church is Russian Orthodox. Does everyone in the congregation have that ethnic background?

Alexis Duncan

Our membership is probably about one-third Russian, those who immigrated before World War II; one-third new immigrants just here from Russia; and one-third American, those who have converted or married into the Orthodox Church. It’s a pretty nice balance of different peoples. There are regularly 100 or more worshipers on Sunday mornings, but we see many more on Easter and Christmas. We’re not a large parish in the sense of megachurches, but for an Orthodox parish, we’re average in size.

Jennifer Patterson

What makes a church Orthodox?

Alexis Duncan

The Orthodox Church is very traditional and has preserved, without deviation, the traditions and doctrines of the early Christian Church established by the apostles. We don’t believe that over time Christian theology or basic worship can change, or that morality changes when society does.

Jennifer Patterson

In keeping with tradition, you celebrate Christmas in January. Why is that?

Alexis Duncan

In the 4th century, the First Ecumenical Council determined to follow the Julian calendar, named for Julius Caesar. Most of Europe followed this calendar until the 18th century… our founding fathers were born under it. The Christian Church followed this calendar for a sense of unity. Pope Gregory XIII ordered the calendar to be advanced by 10 days in the 16th century, which became known as the Gregorian calendar. Most Orthodox churches, with the exception of some Greek Orthodox churches, still follow the Julian calendar and our Christmas, or Feast of the Nativity, is celebrated in January. It really is a matter of faith.

Jennifer Patterson

Tell us how you’ll be celebrating the holiday.

Alexis Duncan

Our “old calendar” services are in English and Church Slavonic, the liturgical language of the Russian Orthodox Church. We’ll have a vigil on Sunday evening, our Christmas Eve, in preparation for the Feast of the Nativity on Monday, our Christmas. We’ll have Mass at 09.30. We have 12 great feasts throughout the year, but this service is one of the most major and anticipated.

4 January 2013

Albany (NY) Times-Union


Editor’s Afterword:

Liar, liar, pants on fire! Firstly, Rev Duncan doesn’t inform Ms Patterson that there are TWO other priests attached to this dinky establishment, which has always functioned as a podvorie of Jordanville (ROCOR priests have said of the Albany bunch, “They’re rather unique; they have their own ways”, not in a good sense); Drobot was a reliable First Family apparatchik (he was “President of the Presbyteral Senate”, a suitably Ruritanian title for a Grand Fenwickian situation, he lived at Jordanville, some 115 klicks (70 miles) away from the Albany parish). In short, Duncan’s presence was NOT a necessity due to the presence of two other clergymen onsite. Duncan doesn’t even mention them! What a maroon! He didn’t say, “My colleagues in ministry here are Frs X and Y, they’ve been here much longer than I’ve been, and I intend to learn much from them”. That’s what a humble man would’ve said. No… they don’t even rate a mention; they don’t even get sloppy seconds. There’s no pressing pastoral need for this jabronie to be present at all. It smells as if he was sent for to be the chaplain to the Fedoroff clan, who think that they run this parish. Indeed, the location (in wetland not truly suitable for construction, it added unneeded expense to the construction costs) was chosen because it was close to the residence of the Fedoroff clan’s matriarch.

Secondly, he’s not getting 100 people a Sunday at liturgy. His proportions are correct, but he’s wrong in one of the details. There really aren’t any First Wave émigré families or po-nashemu Karpatsky people at this parish… when I attended it (when it was in Schenectady NY), it was mostly post-World II Second Wave DPs and their families; they had amazingly-nutters Far Right politics (many smelt like ROA/KONR Nazi collaborators; they’d say things such as, “Hitler was a friend of the church”). What my sources tell me is that “attendance is double that of 1990s levels”… that was 30 people a Sunday (with three priests usually present!), so, all things being equal, they’re getting 60 people a Sunday now. He’s bloviating, and the reporter just eats it up, as she knows nothing about the parish. In any case, the building isn’t big, it looks bigger than it is, as it’s built on a slab, so, the furnace and other utility items are behind the altar area, not in the basement. Only some 40 percent of the floor area is in the nave, and it’d be a squeeze to fit over a hundred laypeople in it. For less than a hundred people, they have three priests and two deacons on a given Sunday… that’s ludicrous.

In short, this situation is typical First Family smoke n’ mirrors. Drobot was a typical example of that scurvy breed. In 1991, after the August events, he “hid out” and refused to comment on the new situation for a few weeks until he got the new party-line from Jordanville and Vitaly Ustinov. Then, he was gung-ho for the ROCOR parishes in Russia, and ranted, “The communists are still in charge, nothing has changed!” Hmm… this Duncan guy says that he’s from Virginia… there’s a Duncan family tied in with the Rodzianko clan… he might be part of that lot. There’s a LOT more here than what the ignorant TU reporter could see. Nevertheless, she’s blameless; what does she know of Russian Orthodoxy in the USA? All the same, Duncan gave her the Big Green Weenie and the glad hand… and she fell for it. Kids… there are two other priests serving this parish… there’s no need for this guy… unless Jordanville isn’t sure of the parish’s loyalty to it (the New Russians are all probably pro-MP, along with some of the older parishioners, which means that they’re not beholden to Roman Krassovsky and his Jordanville gang).

It’s the usual simmering stew, isn’t it? We’ll have to see what happens after Hilarion Kapral’s death (nothing will change until then for this local candy store)… Jordanville has no real candidate to replace him, and the Centre seems to want Mark Golovkov for the ROCOR white hat. Will Jordanville pull a HOCNA in that event (as one ROCOR priest told me, “They’ve degenerated into a minor Ukrainian skete”)? Time will tell us, no? Remember, always search “for the rest of the story”… you’ll never be bored, trust me.


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